John and Deborah Hausladen have spent their entire lives in PA. In 2018 their son was deployed to Afghanistan and mom asked if he needed anything. He said some sneakers would be a huge help. So they went and bought a pair and shipped them to him. Then they asked if some of the other soldiers needed sneakers too. He said we all do. This ultimately led to the Hausladens creating the nonprofit Sneakers for Soldiers which supplies sneakers to active-duty military members around the globe.
Sneakers for Soldiers works in collaboration with the Bryn Mawr Running Company, which gets them discounted shoes and provides a space for storage and shipping for the operation. Since sending out that first pair of shoes five years ago, the nonprofit has grown exponentially. "It's expanded into over 11-thousand service members in combat zones in imminent danger areas, the most hostile, the most rugged environments in the world," Deborah proudly shares.
The Hausladens don’t typically get to meet the soldiers who benefit from their initiative. However, they recently got a chance to hear from Will Jones, a U.S. Navy reservist who’s also from the Philadelphia area. Jones was deployed in Africa when he received a pair of shoes from the nonprofit and was grateful not just for what the shoes did for him, but for how they made him feel, saying, “It meant a lot getting that because it was a sense of home for me."
You can learn more about Sneakers For Soldiers here.